The Assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr.: Philippines Political Unrest
The assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr., a prominent Filipino opposition leader and critic of President Ferdinand Marcos, occurred on August 21, 1983, when he was shot dead upon returning to the Philippines after a period of self-imposed exile.
Benigno Aquino Jr., also known as Ninoy Aquino, was a leading opposition figure against the authoritarian rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, who had declared martial law in the Philippines in 1972. Aquino, a former senator, was arrested shortly after the declaration of martial law and spent nearly eight years in prison on charges of subversion and murder. In 1980, Aquino was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment in the United States, where he continued to speak out against the Marcos regime.
In 1983, Aquino decided to return to the Philippines in an attempt to participate in the country’s political process and challenge Marcos’s rule. On August 21, 1983, Aquino arrived at the Manila International Airport (now named Ninoy Aquino International Airport in his honor) and was immediately apprehended by government forces. As he was being escorted off the plane, he was shot in the head and killed. The government initially blamed the assassination on a lone communist gunman, Rolando Galman, who was also killed at the scene.
The assassination of Aquino sparked widespread outrage and protests against the Marcos regime, both domestically and internationally. The event is widely considered a turning point in Filipino history, as it galvanized the opposition and contributed to the eventual downfall of the Marcos dictatorship during the People Power Revolution in 1986.
The true masterminds behind Aquino’s assassination have never been definitively identified. However, many Filipinos and international observers believe that elements within the Marcos government, including the military, were involved in the plot. Several investigations and trials have been conducted, with some military officers and soldiers convicted for their roles in the assassination, but the full extent of the conspiracy and the identities of all those responsible remain unclear.
The assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. continues to hold a significant place in Philippine history and memory, as his death ultimately helped pave the way for the restoration of democracy in the country and the rise of his wife, Corazon Aquino, as the first female president of the Philippines.